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Missed opportunities to prevent Air India bombing?

It was deemed the worst act of terrorism in Canadian history: 331 people were killed in two decisive and deliberate explosions — one in a Japanese airport, another aboard Air India flight 182 in 1985. For the families of the victims, most of them Canadian, this was just the beginning. Charges of investigative bungling would be followed by the more startling accusations that CSIS, Canada's security agency, intentionally initiated a coverup. For over 20 years Canadians have grappled with this unsolved crime for which no one has yet had to pay.

September 1984: RCMP agents receive intelligence that Air India is a terrorist target and will likely be bombed.

January 1985: the FBI warns Canadian authorities of ominous terrorist surveillance tapes.

May 1985: the Indian government sends out an urgent warning that terrorist attacks are imminent on the first anniversary of the June 6, 1984, Golden Temple raid. These telling signs, so specific in detail, went unheeded before the Air India bombing.

The CBC's Brian Stewart reports on the bureaucratic errors that failed to stop a tragedy in waiting.
• The alleged neglect of Tara Singh Hayer's testimony is considered a curious and crucial misstep. In October 1995, Hayer, the former publisher of the Indo-Canadian Times, told police that he overheard Ajaib Singh Bagri talking about his role in the Air India bombing with Punjabi newspaperman Tarsem Singh Purewal. Specifically, Hayer overheard Bagri discussing how he co-ordinated the effort to put the suitcase bomb on the plane. Purewal was later shot dead. In 1988 Hayer was shot and paralyzed. Ten years later he was shot to death outside his home.

• Hayer was an outspoken critic of violent Sikh fundamentalists and was well-known for writing provocative editorials and columns.

• In 2000, Ajaib Singh Bagri was charged with the 1988 attempted murder of Hayer. As of October 2003, Hayer's murder remains unsolved.

Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Dec. 14, 1987
Guest(s): Frank Camper, Ujsal Dojanjan, Indira Gandhi, Svend Robinson, Rodney Wallace
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Brian Stewart
Duration: 11:09

Last updated: June 10, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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